Forsaken Friday

“It is bad luck to fall out of a thirteenth story window on Friday”  American Proverb

Indeed.

After much badgering from my devoted followers – all five of them – I’ve decided to continue on with my personality analyses of the days of the week.  Today’s victim – Friday.   

Friday, that day sandwiched between Thursday and Saturday (as always, thank you Wikipedia).  He’s arguably the most beloved day of the week with ardent worshipers numbering in the millions.  They come together to sing his praises with Facebook statuses, cute tweets declaring TGIF, and, of course, with songs.  The Cure fell in love on Friday, Nancy Sinatra proclaimed herself “Friday’s Child” in this bluesy offering, and who can forget tween internet pop “sensation” Rebecca Black’s Friday masterpiece?  You know you know what I’m talking about.  You were just like me – fixated on the YouTube video like a rubbernecker ogling a car wreck on the freeway.

But all this unabashed adoration is misguided.  Friday is perhaps the saddest, most pathetic day of the week, maybe even more so than slutty Tuesday.  Unless you’re Scottish, that is.  It seems Friday is a very good day to plant potatoes in Scotland.  Who knew?  All in all, though, Friday, is bad news.  Just ask any of those camp counselors who thought it was a good idea to go out to Camp Crystal Lake on a Friday.  Didn’t end well for them now, did it?  No, it didn’t – not even after twelve tries.

Friday wasn’t always like this – a pathetic shell of his former self, wreaking havoc throughout the masses.  In fact, he started out life with such hope and promise.  Friday was popular, the star of the Varsity football team with rugged good looks that drove the ladies wild.  At his side, the best wingman a guy could ask for – Thursday.  But as it happens sometimes with these promising young stars that society elevates to God-like heights, it all went to his head.  He became egotistical and cavalier, believing himself invincible and above the rules that governed the common man.  Everyone loved him, after all.  He could do no wrong; and even if he did, Thursday was there to clean up the fallout.

But Karma is a fickle bitch and soon it would all come crashing down around his ears.  First to go was the scholarship to that big ten conference college – a blown knee suffered not on the football field but during a midnight cow tipping prank on Old Mr. October’s farm.  Next to fall by the wayside – his girl, Sunday.  She was a religious girl, holy in her upbringing.  Her father was a reverend at local Episcopalian church.  Friday’s erratic and irresponsible behavior simply could be tolerated no more – it went against everything she believed in.  She broke up with him via text message as she boarded a plane to India to begin a six month pilgrimage to find inner peace.  Emotionally stunted, Friday was ill-equipped to deal with such harsh rejection and thus, turned to drinking to drown his sorrows.  As these things often do, drinking progressed to drunkenness and before you know it, Friday was whoring around with women from Sassy June’s Gentlemen Club every night, leaving a trail of self-destruction in his wake.  It was more than Thursday could handle and so he walked away from his friend, as well.

Now, Friday can be found every night of the week down at the local pub.  His good looks gone, replaced with a body worn and weary from years of hard living and overindulgence.  He sits at the end of the bar, empty beer glasses all around, and waits.  He knows that soon the end of the week will arrive and all of his worshipers will pile into this smoke-filled dive to once again pay homage to the man he used to be – the man they still believe exists.  He will bask in the glow of their adoration, and feel a temporary resurgence of what it had been like all those year ago.  He will walk down memory lane with them and tell exaggerated stories of his wild escapades, relishing in their undivided attention.  He will feel whole once again.

Inevitably, though, the night must end.  His admirers will leave as they are wont to do, and Friday will have to drag his drunk ass home.  As the sun dawns bright and early Saturday morning, he will be awaken by a slamming hangover and the seductive caress of slutty Tuesday wearing a hockey mask and brandishing a bloody machete.

“Revenge is sweet and non fattening.”  Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980).

Another Remake?

So, with everyone throwing around words like remake, reboot, prequel, and sequel, my head is spinning.  I’m so confused by it all and it makes me wonder if the creativity well in Hollywood has finally run dry?  Do the powers that be think the viewing public so incapable of espousing something new and fresh that they must look to the past for the next great flick?  Or maybe it’s not them.  Maybe it’s us.  Are our imaginations so stunted that we are truly inept at embracing anything other than storylines and characters we already find intimately familiar? Frankly, I find it all exhausting and a bit of a blow to my intelligence.   That’s not to say I’m immune to it all.  I loved the Star Trek reboot.  What self-respecting, closet geek didn’t?  Tron Legacy, anyone? Bond? Well, it did take me a while to get on board that reboot.  Though, my issue was more in the casting than the direction of the franchise. I eventually did come around to the idea of Daniel Craig filling the Bond shoes – even if Quantum of Solace did suck ever so slightly.  Okay.  A lot.

Then there’s the Footloose remake.  It’s a remake and not a reboot, right? Again, I have no idea but I do know that there can be absolutely no logical reason to futz around with that flick.  Kevin Bacon = Ren McCormack.  Period.  End of story.  Any remake, reboot, sequel, prequel – whatever – is doomed to failure and will likely tarnish the good name of a perfectly wonderful 80’s classic –  again.  Do Hollywood executives not remember the debacle that was Fame circa 2009?  Or that monstrosity that was 2004’s Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights?  The next thing you know, they’ll be remaking Flashdance and Top Gun.  Oops…too late.  Top Gun is slated for 2013.  Excuse me while I beat my head against my desk.  Pure blasphemy. But wait – there’s more.  At a theater near you this summer, you will have your choice of remakes and reboots (define them how you will – I’m tired of trying).  You will be treated to fresh offerings of Fright Night, Conan the Barbarian 3D (because 3D makes everything better – not), Spy Kids 4 in 4D (oh goody – the added bonus of seeing a sucky movie AND getting wet), Final Destination 5 (they haven’t gotten there yet?), Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, and The Smurfs (also in 3D – *sigh*).  Next year you can expect to be dazzled with remakes/reboots of Spiderman, Superman (entitled Man of Steel), the next Dark Knight film (Batman) and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (because as Americans, we have to do things our way).    And of course, for all you stoners out there – Bill & Ted 3 appears to be a go. Again, I ask:  Has Hollywood run out of ideas?  Or have we lost our willingness to embrace new ideas; thereby, giving writers no choice but to give us what we already know?

“Ima gonna kick your ass.”

Sydney Bristow - Alias

I should probably begin this post by acknowledging its inspiration.  A couple of days ago, one of my fellow Write Clubers, Bill Chance, wrote a very insightful piece about the movie Kick-Ass.  Now, I’ve never seen the movie myself.  Those sort of bloodbath flicks aren’t really my style, but what inspired me was the conversation that transpired as a result of his post, during this week’s meeting of the minds.  The notion of this ass-kicking little girl made me think of all the other ass-kicking “girls” that I love so much, both on film and in print.  I recommend you take a minute and read Bill’s blog yourself – (here)   

I’ve always been drawn to strong female characters.  These are characters who aren’t afraid of getting a little grime beneath their perfectly manicured fingernails, or speaking their minds and educating the ignorant masses in the ways of the world.  Women who know how to handle a weapon, any weapon, and aren’t scared to use it – relish in using it, even.  These female characters would never need a man to do their saving.  They can save themselves, thank you very much, with much more finesse and efficiency than any male counterpart – in heels and a cocktail dress, no less.  They have chutzpah – or balls for my non-Yiddish speaking friends. I love that.

If you know me, then you’re probably well aware that one of my all-time favorite television characters is Alias Sydney Bristow.  I got to know her quite well when I was in the midst of getting my formerly fat butt into shape.  She got me through hour after hour of seemingly endless pedaling to nowhere.  I have a special place in my heart for Sydney Bristow.  To me, she is the epitome of ass-kicking greatness.  She’s smart, tough as nails, focused – and who isn’t just a little bit turned on by the over-the-top costumes she dons?  All in the name of saving the world from evil masterminds hell bent on destroying us all. 

Of course, she isn’t the only strong female character out there.  There’s The Closer’s Brenda Leigh Johnson – a powerful woman with a dogged determination that keeps her obsessively focused on getting her suspect’s confession.  Her balls of brass tenacity coupled with her “bless your heart” southern drawl makes her a formidable foe to many a bad guy.  Then, there is Lisbeth Salander from Stieg Larssen’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy.  Not your traditional heroine, I will concede, but strong and admirable, nonetheless.  Of course, you have to get passed the emaciated, Goth thing she’s sporting and overlook her very disturbed mind brought about by an equally disturbed childhood.  Peel all that away and you will find a girl who will stand up for herself and those she loves, no matter what the cost.  I mean, how could you not love a character that will break into her rapist’s apartment, hog-tie him to a bed and tattoo his crimes in red ink across his chest?  Not necessarily how I would have gone about enacting my revenge, but it shows she’s got chutzpah.

There are a slew of other woman – a list that I am surely not doing justice – but the few that pop into my head at this particular moment are: Sigourney Weaver’s alien ass-kicker Ellen Ripley, Tomb Raider’s Lady Lara Croft, Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta, Kathy Reichs’ Temperance Brennan, Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman, Resident Evil’s Alice, Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia, In Plain Sights’ Mary Shannon, Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet.  Yes, Elizabeth Bennet – the future Mrs. Darcy – an inspiringly strong woman, especially in the context of her time.  No, you’re not going to see Lizzy packing a Glock 38, riding a motorcycle through the English countryside to save Mr. Darcy from the evil clutches of Mr. Wickham and Mr. Collins.  I agree, that would certainly make for some great entertainment.  I’d watch it.  However, for a late eighteenth/early nineteenth century, middle class woman she was remarkably defiant against the walls society placed around her.  She mocked the status quo.  Sure, she ended up marrying the handsome, rich guy and living happily ever after, but she did it on her terms and without compromise.  Something I greatly admire in a female lead.  Perhaps this is the very reason I can’t jump on board the Twilight crazy train.  Bella is a character I would kill off the minute an opportunity presented itself.  Grow a backbone, girl!  Get yourself a gun that shoots silver bullets and a big wooden stake.  Do the world a favor – get rid of those obnoxious werewolves and sparkling vampires.  Go find a real man – or don’t – just stop sniveling over those two pathetic saps.     

These kick-ass women, and countless more, are the kind of characters I find intriguing and aspire to create within the pages of my own work.  A daunting task to be sure, especially in a literary world where so many female characters are portrayed as damsels in distress. What about you?  Who are a few of your favorite kick-ass women in the world of fiction?

**The title of this blog comes from a line of dialogue in Season 4, Episode 3 of Alias.**

My Phobia Trumps Your Rationality

“What are fears but voices airy?
Whispering harm where harm is not.
And deluding the unwary
Till the fatal bolt is shot!”  Wordsworth

Inside my head there is a voice – a voice I imagine belongs to a neurotic little troll with wild hair that stand on end and is the color of rainbows.  He runs through my mind in nary a stitch, scared of his own shadow and whispering of the gloom and doom that will surely rain down upon my head should I do anything involving a plane, boat or a bear.  
 
“In everything one thing is impossible: rationality.” Friedrich Nietzsche
 
Phobia is a funny little word – [foh-bee-uh].  It’s weird how it just rolls around your mouth.  Say it.  I bet you make some strange faces as you run through the syllables (okay, you can stop now because you look like an idiot and I can’t have idiots reading my blog).  Hearing the term phobia always makes me think of those people you read about who haven’t left their houses in two decades or that movie about those spiders that scared me so badly, I slept with the lights on for a month after I saw it back in 1990 (I’m getting the heebee-jeebees just thinking about those disgusting little hairy things).   The  word embodies the very definition of incapacitating fear, but a phobia is nothing more than the irrational fear of something.  Everyone has phobias.  Some are indeed as significant as the name implies, others not so much – but all are very real to those who suffer from them.  I fear three things:  flying, boats, and bears.  Odd combination of things, you say?  Not really.  I think they all fit together quite nicely.  They all involve nasty, painful deaths – MY nasty, painful death.
 
I fly.  I don’t like it but, as I often do, I accept it as one of life’s little necessities.  I suck it up.  I am an adapter, after all.  I will book the flight and file it away under “to worry about later” in the card catalog that resides next to the troll in my mind.  I always organize my stressors in this fashion otherwise, I’d be a big pile of goo on the bathroom floor.   Dealing with them one at a time, in the order of importance, keeps the chaos down to a dull roar and allows me to function as a productive member of society. 
 
About the time I need to start thinking about packing for my little plane ride, the calamity in my head begins.   It seems my panic-stricken troll has discovered our impending trip.  Into a frenzy he goes.   It will begin as a nagging whisper, gradually increasing in intensity until my troll has convinced me that this trip will be my last and thus, I must prepare for my imminent demise.   Out comes the Will and the life insurance policies.  Next, I will begin to obsess about that family trust I’ve never set up and wonder if there is time before the fast approaching departure date to meet with an attorney or an extra grand in the budget to pay for said attorney and documents.  In lieu of spending the grand on the trust, I will seek out the counsel of my boss to have the same conversation I’ve had with her a million times.  For the millionth time, she will roll her eyes at me and tell me the same thing she always does, sending me on my way with a loud sigh and a pat on the head.  I’m beginning to think she’s grown tired of having this conversation with me.  I’m sure she will be thrilled come July.  That is when my next trip is planned.
 
Boats are another thing that sends my beloved troll into hysterics.  Or perhaps it isn’t necessarily the craft itself that is bothersome.  A boat, after all, is nothing more than a harmless vessel.  Put it in a body of water – any body of water – and it becomes a death trap.  So, I suppose it would be more accurate to say that my troll and I aren’t fans of water.  I don’t believe I can honestly lay this one solely at my troll’s feet, however.  My father, bless his heart, bears some measure of responsiblity in instilling this fear in me.   He meant well.  How could he have possibly known that sticking an overimaginative 5-year-old in a twelve-foot Jon boat and then paddling to the middle of a dark, alligator and snake infested bayou to fish would do irrevocable damage?  Impossible to predict, I’m sure, but plausible nonetheless.  If there is one phobia that I find almost debilitating, this would be it.  I do not swim, not even the doggy paddle.  I do not float.  I think life jackets are nothing more than pieces of brightly colored false hope.  If you are stupid enough to get on a boat, you’re going in; and if you go in, you will drown.  If, by some miracle, your lungs aren’t crushed under the weight of the water and you do manage to surface for air, you will be picked off by massive Megalodons that have been awaken by your thrashing.  Either way, you’re toast – or in this case, fish food.   There is simply no other possible outcome.
 
Bears.  Some of my friends are giggling right now.  I can hear them.  Shut up.  All of you.  In my mind, bears are everywhere.  It matters not that black bears and grizzly bears and brown bears are not indigenous to every state.  I believe that if there is a campground and a hiking trail then there is a bear in the vicinity – and it is bent on eating me.   This is, yet again, the result of an overimaginative child exposed to things that are beyond the ability of such a young mind to comprehend.   My grandmother, bless her heart, could have no idea that simply watching a news story could do as much damage to me as my father’s fishing trips.  However, that tragic story about the young couple eaten by a pack of bears in their tent, in the dead of night was scarring.  It didn’t matter that it happened several hundred miles away, my little ears heard only the words camping, tent, bears, dead.  That was enough for me to know that camping was not something I ever wanted to do because I didn’t want to be bear food anymore than I wanted to be fish food.
 
I know what you’re thinking.  I’m being irrational.  After all, the probability of being thrown overboard and eaten by a Megalodon is quite low – as is being eaten by bears on a camping trip.  I hear what you’re saying.  I do.  But the troll inside my head does not.   For him and thus, for me these phobias are all too real and no matter how much you argue their absurdity, they aren’t going to go away.  So, let’s just agree to disagree.  If you will promise not to come crying to me when you get yourself  eaten by a Megalodon, I will promise not to gloat and say, “I told you so.”  Deal?
 

My Character Inspiration

“All characters are based on elements of a writer’s personal experience.”  Robert Holdstock

I’ve always been a watcher.  No, not in that creepy Keanu Reeves (The Watcher) sort of way.  My watching tendencies come more out of an innate curiosity of what makes people tick.  I often sit and wonder at the lives of the people I come in contact with on a daily basis.  Are they rich?  Poor? Do they have a good marriage?  A good job? Are they nice or more of a self-centered prig?  Do they have mannerism that I find interesting or repulsive?  Why did they pick those shoes to wear with that blouse?  Are they a secret spy?  A terrorist?  A serial killer stalking their next victim? 

For instance, take the man from Starbucks my writing group observed last night.  He was tucked away in one of the room’s only comfy chairs, “reading” a self-help book.  I say this with air quotes because, although he had the book open in front of his face (and I mean literally blocking his face), he was talking on his bluetooth.   At least I assume it was a bluetooth because surely he wasn’t sitting in Starbucks, pretending to read a book AND talking to himself.  What the heck was this guy all about?  We all took a peek at him and speculated.  Was this man a secret spy?  Perhaps he was sent to observe the man across the room wearing a nondescript baseball cap and typing feverishly on his laptop.  Or perhaps he was waiting for that girl he met on that dating site and hoped to impress her with his choice of reading material.  Or maybe he was just a douchebag hiding behind a book we all knew he wasn’t interested in reading and talking way too loud on the phone.  I ruled out secret spy right away –  Jason Bourne he was not – and settled on the latter. 

This is what makes people watching so fascinating to me – speculation and the “what if” game.  Like the woman I see at the gym every so often with the ginormous…um…let’s call them ta-tas.  I see her float past me during my hour-long, 27.9 mile ride to nowhere.   I am always shocked and amazed that she can walk with such impressively good posture – shoulders down and back, perfect alignment over the hips, head up.   I don’t know much about physics but I would certainly think that she is defying gravity in her ability to remain upright with such a disproportionate top load or maybe she has a spine made of steel.   Hadn’t thought of that possibility until just now, but I digress. 

As she passes me, I always look around expecting to see a Bravo camera crew trailing behind her, catching her every move for the yet unannounced new addition to the series – The Real Housewives of Denton County.  I am forever disappointed that she is all alone because who wouldn’t be tickled pink over another Real Housewives to add to the DVR lineup.  No?  Just me?  Hm.  It is a this point that my mind begins to ask questions.  Is she a stripper? A kept woman? A kept woman who used to be a stripper?  Sydney Bristow in costume preparing to take down the membership manager who is really an arms dealer using 24 Hour Fitness as a front?  I always thought he looked a little questionable.  I’ve been meaning to run him through public data. 

The peculiar man from Starbucks and the buxom blonde would both make great supporting characters in a novel.  Neither would make it to the end of the book alive, but we all need those expendable characters to keep the story flowing.  Right?  You know I’m right.   But what about those instrumental protagonists?  My former history professor is character inspiration gold.  Not in the sacrificial lamb sort of way but as leading man material.  He looks like a young, very thin Ben Affleck with nerdy glasses and displays some distinctive and, often times, funny tics.  He is a brilliant historian, versed in his discipline with more than his fair share of passion on the subject.  He paces the room as he lectures, his voice getting louder and more animated with every breath.  Sometimes I feel like I am in church (if i went to church – don’t judge me) because his voice will suddenly boom and reverberate off of the four walls of the small room.   This is always the point in class where the devil inside me rejoices because his sudden increase in volume will cause the snoozers to jump out of their skin, knock their empty spiral notebooks onto the floor and look around in wide-eyed shock.  Maybe that’s why he does it.

He says “right” after every couple of sentences and he’s not asking a question.  He just says it.  Maybe it’s a Minnesota thing.  He is also shamefully disorganized and clumsy, dropping piles of unbound, coffee stained lecture notes onto the floor so often it becomes such a part of the daily routine that students don’t even notice anymore.   I see him not as this odd, little professor teaching me a freshman level history course, but as the lead in a romantic suspense novel.  Perhaps, the absentminded professor schtick is just a cover.  What if he is a super secret spy, a member of an off the books black ops team only activated in times of great crisis (are you seeing a pattern here)?  What if he will have to team up with the to be announced, tough as nails female character to save the world?  What if he is just what he seems, a quirky intellectual who is inadvertently dragged into some sinister plot?  Better yet, what if the bodacious blonde from the gym and the obnoxious dude from Starbucks are assassins bent on killing the president of the community college (the president that reminds me of that lawyer).  The professor stumbles upon the plot becoming a target himself, then he must team up with the aforementioned compelling character, eliminate the blonde and the Starbucks dude to save the president’s life and dismantle the bomb hidden beneath the library atrium with only his knowledge of World War I trench warfare tactics to guide him. 

Or maybe not.

Characters are the driving force in every story.  Without them, there is no point to putting pen to page.  Next time you are at the grocery store, standing in line behind that lady with one too many kids who wants to pay with an actual paper check, take a look around you.  See, that man in the next aisle?  No, not him.  The other one.  Yes, the one with the carton of milk and toilet plunger.   Take a good look at him.  Ask yourself:  Who is he?  Why is buying milk and a toilet plunger?  Could he be a super secret spy?  A terrorist?  A serial killer hunting his next victim?  Oh crap!  Did he just smile at you?

What I’ve learned about me over the last decade…

 In one month, I will turn 39.  Egads!  39.   Seriously?  How the hell did that happen?  I mean, I can see the whites of 40’s eyes glaring at me from the not so distant shadows.  It’s the beginning of a whole new decade of my life and that much closer to middle-age.   Oh wait, am I middle-aged now?  Oh God, now I’ve scared myself.  I suppose it’s safe to say that I am not really taking this whole 39th birthday thing too well.   I never do and really, who does?   I remember a time when I couldn’t wait for that next birthday to come.  Age 10 meant I could ride my bike on the street; age 16 – driver’s license; age 18 – emancipation; age 21- legal liquor.  Then it all just sort of fizzled out.  After a while birthday excitement got harder and harder to muster until one day the very thought of another birthday left me curled up in the fetal position on the bathroom floor, murmuring unintelligible nonsense over and over.  What?  Never happened to you?  Hmmmm…strange.  Happens to me every year.

As the days tick by, edging closer and closer to June 16, I find myself feeling reflective.  When I turned 29, my beautiful daughter was not yet one and my son was still under the false impression that I was, if not cool, a least a little bit fun.   But for all this happiness and promise of what my 30s would bring, I didn’t start the decade off on the right foot.  Indeed, I squandered almost half of it by feeling afraid.  Afraid of the future; afraid of change; afraid of finding out who I really was as a person – or perhaps rather, who I wanted to be as a person.  It wasn’t a good time for me.  I retreated into myself, alienated friends and got myself good and fat.  I could snarf down an entire bag of Oreos without coming up for air.  It was actually quite an impressive feat, if I do say so myself.  I stumbled my way through my early 30s this way until I saw the family Christmas photo in 2004. 

I was excited about that photo.  It was the first photo of all us in years.   I picked it up and opened the envelope with much anticipation.  It was going to be great, I just knew it.  Wrong.  Sure, my family looked amazing.  Megan with her chubby little cheeks and Brendan with his dazzling smile and Nolan looking every bit the part of a proud husband and father – then there was me.  Double chin, round face, sunken eyes, frizzy hair, sausage arms accentuated by the festive red sweater I’d stupidly chosen instead of my usual black.  My gasp of horror was irrepressible and was surely heard by everyone in the photo studio.  I don’t think I have ever laid eyes on a worse photo – not even my senior pictures which were mind-blowingly bad to say the least, was that bad.   I’ve alway wondered how I made it out of that place without disgracing myself but I made it safely back to my car before I dissolved into a sobbing pile of goo. 

That terrible, awful, disgusting, repulsive – I could go on forever – picture changed my life. It was like someone flipped a switch in me.  I didn’t want to be the person I saw in this picture staring back at me with dead eyes.  I wanted to be something more.  First thing I did was lose the weight.  Wasn’t easy – it never is.  One of life’s little ironies is that it’s always so much easier and a lot more fun to get fat than it is to get un-fat.  I did it though – me, my stationary bike and reruns of Alias (only the greatest show on television – EVER).  Once I did that, it opened up a whole new realm of possibilities for me.  I mean, if I could lose 50 lbs, what else could I do?  What did I want to do?  I wanted to write.   Writing was something I’d dabbled in since childhood but never had the confidence to pursue.

I took a basic novel writing class at Collin County Community College.  Best thing I ever did for myself – well besides loosing weight and getting healthy.  I learned several things about myself during this class – 1) I am quite capable of carrying on conversations with complete strangers without making too much of a fool of myself 2) I sweat and shake profusely when I am nervous  – I am talking sopping wet pits 3) Letting others read and critique my work doesn’t make the heavens come crashing down around my ears.  4) Change isn’t all that scary. 

In my mid-thirties, I learned that the universe has a sick sense of humor.  I was taking baby steps in my endeavor to be more open to change and find myself.   I was more than happy with the pace of things.  Apparently, the universe didn’t quite see things my way.   In the span of just a few months, I lost my house to a fire, my father to cancer, my mother came to live with us and then was diagnosed with cancer herself.  Like it or not, I was going to have to deal with some serious change – quickly – like right now.  If it had been five years early, I might have crawled into my bed, pulled the covers over my head and waited for the storm to pass but it never crossed my mind.  Instead, I dealt with it, bit by bit and I let myself grow from the experience.  I signed up for another writing class (the one I had to drop because my father passed away) and I met the most amazing people.  (Funny how the universe worked there – I never would have met them if I had stayed in the first class.)  They read my work – I had to stand up in front of them and watch while they did it.  As before, it didn’t kill me.  I did sweat like a pig and shake like a leaf but I survived.  I discovered I liked sharing my work,  I liked the honest feedback and I learned that I wasn’t a terrible writer but I had a lot of room for improvement.  I found that I liked them.  Everyone different with their own thoughts and creative ideas.  And every one of them just as quirky as me.  I felt a kinship with these people.   I found my group. 

As I make the climb up these steep steps toward 40, I am not happy about it.  I hate the new wrinkles around my eyes, the laugh lines that frame my mouth and the saggy little skin I’ve just discovered under my chin that no amount of miracle cream can seem to tighten.  I hate that no matter how much I exercise, I will never get rid of that bit of fat that is threatening to overtake my knees.  My feet hurt, my knees ache a little and I can’t fall off a ladder anymore without really hurting myself.  I’m still scared of losing the tight grip I keep on my life – I will forever be a control freak but I am learning to be more laid back and maybe even the tiniest bit spontaneous.  I understand now the importance of nurturing good relationships, cutting out the bad and not being afraid to step off the ledge without looking – well maybe just a peek before I leap.  I am getting older.  I can’t stop it, I don’t like it anymore now than I did ten years ago but the difference now is that I can accept it and feel almost a little bit of excitement about what I might be able to accomplish in the coming years.  I am a 38-year-old college student, after all.  Right now the possibilities seem endless.